Barnaby Conrad

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For Barnaby Conrad III (born 1952), see Barnaby Conrad III.

Barnaby Conrad, Jr. (March 27, 1922 – February 12, 2013)[1] was an American artist and author.[2]

Born in San Francisco, California to an affluent family, Conrad was raised in Hillsborough. He spent a year at the Cate School in Carpinteria, California before being sent east and gradutating from the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut in the class of 1940.[3][4]

He attended the University of North Carolina, where he was captain of the freshman boxing team. He also studied painting at the University of Mexico, where he also became interested in bullfighting. After being injured in the bullring, he returned to college and graduated from Yale University in 1943. He wanted to join the Navy after Yale, but his bullfighting injury prevented that.[1][5]

Conrad was American Vice Consul to Seville, Málaga, and Barcelona from 1943-46. While in Spain, he studied bullfighting with Juan Belmonte, Manolete, and Carlos Arruza. In 1945 he appeared on the same program with Belmonte and was awarded the ears of the bull. He is the only American male to have fought in Spain, Mexico and Peru. After his stint in Spain, he moved for a time to Lima, Peru. He was known as "El Niño de California" ("The California Kid").[1]

In 1947, he worked as secretary to famed novelist Sinclair Lewis. Conrad published his first novel, The Innocent Villa, in 1948. It largely went unnoticed, but his second novel, Matador, sold 3,000,000 copies.[6]

John Steinbeck selected Conrad's Matador as his favorite book of the year, and the novel has been translated into 28 languages. Royalties from Matador provided Conrad with the capital to open El Matador nightclub in San Francisco in 1953.[7] Herb Caen, noting that Matador was the publisher's suggested alternative to the original title Conrad had given his second novel, commented on Conrad naming his nightclub after his first best seller: "Who'd ever go eat at a restaurant called Day of Fear?"[6] In 1997 Conrad wrote Name Dropping: Tales From My San Francisco Nightclub, "a jaunty account" about the 10 years he ran El Matador.[7]

In 1958, Conrad was gored, almost fatally[5] in a bullfight that was part of a charity event.[7] After learning of the incident, Eva Gabor is said to have run into Noël Coward at Sardi's in New York and asked him, "Did you hear about poor Barnaby? He was terribly gored in Spain." Coward replied, "Oh, thank heavens. I thought you said he was bored."[6]

Conrad served as a Golden Gate Awards juror at the 1959 San Francisco Film Festival. In 1965 he joined the Festival board and served for five years.[8][9]

Conrad started the Santa Barbara Writers Conference in 1973 at the Cate School, inviting such well-known authors as Eudora Welty, Gore Vidal, Joan Didion and Ross Macdonald.[5] He and his wife Mary directed the literary gathering until Conrad sold the conference in 2004.[10] His son, Barnaby Conrad III, is also a San Francisco-based writer.

Conrad's charcoal portraits of Truman Capote and James Michener hang in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.[6]


Conrad died on February 12, 2013 at his home in Carpinteria, California. He had been in hospice care for three weeks.[7][11] He was 90 years old.

Works by Barnaby Conrad[edit]

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As editor, translator or contributor[edit]

Famous "sports" quote[edit]

The famous quote "Only bullfighting, mountain climbing and auto racing are sports, the rest are merely games" can be attributed to Conrad,[13] however Ernest Hemingway is often mistaken as the source.


  1. ^ a b c "About Barnaby Conrad". The Death of Manolete by Barnaby Conrad. Pippin Publishing. Archived from the original on April 9, 2010. Retrieved April 18, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Obituary: Barnaby Conrad". The Telegraph. March 8, 2013. 
  3. ^ Profile,; accessed September 13, 2015.
  4. ^ Obituary,, February 17, 2013; accessed September 13, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c "Barnaby Conrad - Last Boat to Cadiz". Capra Press. Retrieved April 18, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c d Chawkins, Steve (February 16, 2013). "Barnarby Conrad Jr. dies at 90; bullfighter, artist, saloonkeeper founded Santa Barbara Writers Conference",; accessed September 13, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d "Barnaby Conrad, Man of Many Hats and a Cape, Dies at 90". New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Our History". San Francisco International Film Festival - The First to Fifty. San Francisco Film Society. Retrieved April 18, 2010. 
  9. ^ Landazuri, Margarita. "Interview with Barnaby Conrad" (PDF). San Francisco Film Society Oral History Project. San Francisco Film Society. Retrieved April 18, 2010. 
  10. ^ Brantingham, Barney (March 29, 2010). "Monte Schulz Bids for S.B. Writers Conference". Santa Barbara Independent (Santa Barbara, California). On the Beat. Archived from the original on May 2, 2010. Retrieved April 18, 2010. 
  11. ^ Brantingham, Barney (February 12, 2013). "Barnaby Conrad Dies". Santa Barbara Independent (Santa Barbara, California). 
  12. ^ Kretzmer, Herbert (27 Nov 1988). "Review: Matador by Barnaby Conrad". Los Angeles Times. 
  13. ^ "Open Mic: What's a Sport?". Bleacher Report. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 

External links[edit]